How to Act as Your Own Mentor

By Chelsea Babin

A good mentor is hard to find, but mentors bring so much added value to your career as a whole that it’s hard to go without one. Instead of waiting around wishing that you had a great mentor, take a look at the person in the mirror and welcome them as your mentor! Yes, you can act as your own career mentor, here’s how.

1. Identify Your Strengths: To start your role as your own mentor, look for the good in yourself. Find the areas that pique your interest, drive you, and motivate you. Identify the skills and experience you already have that make you a strong contender in your chosen career field. Basically, identify the things a mentor might look at as proof that you have potential and could really be going places. Knowing what these are is an essential part of being your own mentor because you’ll need to offer yourself encouragement along the way to keep your energy high and your motivation steady.

2. Find Areas that Need Improvement: Once you’ve taken a good, hard look at your strengths, it’s time to do the same for the areas where you need improvement. No one comes to the table with all the knowledge they need or all of the skills they require to accomplish their dreams. And, if they do, they probably don’t have very ambitious dreams. Learning and growing is an inherent part of the process, so don’t be afraid to dig in deep and really identify the areas where you need the most improvement.

3. Design Your Personal Career Plan: Once you have a better understanding of your strengths, your areas of interest, and your areas that need improvement, you can write down some specific, time-bound goals in the form of a personal career plan. While you’ll want to build in some flexibility to account for opportunities that arise along the way, having a personal career plan will help you execute your dreams and evaluate your progress so you can stay on track and achieve what you’ve set out to achieve. Personal career plans can keep you motivated and energized in the same way a mentor can!

4. Find an Accountability Partner: Acting as your own career mentor can be very effective and rewarding but, for some, the most important role a mentor plays lies in accountability. If you’re the kind of person who is more likely to accomplish something or do what you say you’re going to do on a deadline, you may want to find an accountability partner. Hold each other accountable for the goals you’re each trying to reach and see how much easier it is to accomplish your lofty dreams and reach your high expectations!

5. Build Your Professional Network or Read About Your Heroes: While you may have to act as your own mentor now, you don’t have to do it forever. Work on building your professional network and try to meet people who have a career that you’re interested in or who have followed a career path that looks similar to the one you’ve laid out in your personal career plan. If you’re not able to access these people directly because they’re, say, Elon Musk, take some time to read about your heroes! Understanding their thought process, their work methods, and what makes them tick can help you almost as much as knowing them personally because, the better you get to know them, the more you can model your decisions after the advice you think they’d give in your specific situation.

6. Consider Consulting a Professional Counselor: While you may not be eager to see a therapist, there are professional counselors in the world who can help you determine an effective career strategy, overcome a major obstacle like a workplace conflict, or simply be a sounding board so you can have an outside perspective from time to time. If all you need is another set of eyes and ears on your career, a professional counselor is trained to fit this position perfectly.

While you may prefer to have a traditional mentor, you don’t have to have one to reap the numerous career benefits of mentorship. Instead, do these 6 things to act as your own mentor and guide yourself towards the career success, accomplishments, and goals you’re striving for.